No. 6 Kentucky holds off Georgia women, 69-64
ATHENS, Ga. (AP) - Andy Landers didn't budge when Anne Marie Armstrong was called for her third foul late in the first half of Georgia's game against Kentucky.
Normally, that's a no-brainer decision for a coach: It's time to send in a sub. This wasn't a normal situation. Injuries left Georgia with almost no depth, and the Lady Bulldogs couldn't keep up against a much deeper Kentucky team.
Kentucky took the lead with a 9-0 run in the second half and the No. 6 Wildcats wore down short-handed Georgia and beat the No. 15 Lady Bulldogs 69-64 on Thursday night.
Armstrong remained on the floor to pick up her fourth foul late in the first half, demonstrating Georgia's critical lack of depth.
"We were in a situation where we can't take her out," Landers said of his decision to leave Armstrong in the game with three fouls. "It's that simple."
Samarie Walker had 18 points for Kentucky (17-2, 6-0 Southeastern Conference).
Georgia (15-4, 4-2) led by 10 points early in the second half but couldn't keep up with only seven players. Kentucky, with 12 players seeing action, finished with an overwhelming 34-0 advantage in bench points.
Bulldogs starting guard Jasmine James, the team's primary ball-handler, was held out with a sprained right knee. Freshman reserve forward Krista Donald, was in uniform but did not play after aggravating a left knee injury.
"It was kind of a nightmare, once we go the number of players that were going to be playing," said Meredith Mitchell, one of two Georgia starters to play the full 40 minutes.
"If they're not pressing you the whole game, they're pressuring you the whole game. It gets you tired."
Freshman Erika Ford, starting for James, led Georgia with 17 points. Jasmine Hassell had 13 points and Miller had 12.
Georgia took a 46-36 lead about 5 minutes into the second half, but its lack of depth soon began to show.
Kentucky went ahead 58-52 after the 9-0 run. Georgia made a short-lived recovery before Hassell's basket with 3:59 remaining was disallowed due to a charge, leaving the Wildcats up 62-59.
Armstrong, who had 11 points, hit a 3-pointer with nearly a minute to go to cut the deficit to 66-64. Goss answered with a baseline drive to protect the lead.
"It was a gutsy performance," said Georgia coach Andy Landers. "We were really short-handed against the team that plays the most players in our conference."
Mitchell said Georgia's performance "shows how tough we are and how tough we can be."
Donald's injury left Landers with little frontcourt depth. Landers said he hopes James and Donald can return for Sunday's game at Mississippi. He said Donald would have played only in a tight game in the final minutes of the game. He said "it never crossed my mind" to have Donald take over for Armstrong in the first half.
Bria Goss, who had a career-high 22 points, hit two 3-pointers in the big run, including one that gave the Wildcats a 54-52 lead.
A'dia Mathies, who leads Kentucky with her average of 16.6 points, had seven points and 10 rebounds. The Wildcats retained their lead in the SEC, one game ahead of Tennessee and two games ahead of Georgia and LSU.
"We have a good team and we're going to work hard and stay humble and hungry," said Kentucky coach Matthew Mitchell.
Kentucky leads the nation with a plus-12.3 turnover margin, but its defense forced only four turnovers in the first half as Georgia led 36-32. Mitchell abandoned his full-court press for a half-court defense that sparked the Wildcats.
"The press was just not there tonight," said Matthew Mitchell. "Georgia did a great job. We were not aggressive enough in it. ... I hated to do it, but I had to take the press off. I just told them to see if we could get some energy in the half-court defense. That really worked."
Georgia's Khaalidah Miller and Meredith Mitchell played the full 40 minutes.
Armstrong survived with four fouls the full second half before drawing her fifth with 12 seconds remaining. She had 11 points with seven rebounds and seven assists in 39 minutes.
Goss said Kentucky remained confident even when trailing by 10 points.
"We knew that from the start," Goss said of Georgia's shortage of players. "You might be able to play 40 minutes but it won't be an effective 40 minutes."
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